Yes, It’s the Tampon Scene: Chapter 17.2 of EL James’s “Grey”

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Previous Post.

We pick up after another long hiatus (sorry, everyone — it’s been crazy. I have no walls or ceiling right now, etc.). As you may or may not recall, Christian Grey just happened to be staying at the exact hotel that Ana was drinking at, because of course he was, and he used his Alien Dick Magic to avoid having to talk about his poor behavior and control issues.

Now let’s rejoin the scene where Ana’s mom comes back to the table. Fingers crossed for ageism and casual misogyny!

“Christian, it’s lovely to meet you finally. Ana has spoken very fondly of you,” Mrs. Adams says, with a charming smile.

“Really?” I glance at Ana, who’s blushing.

Fondly, eh?

snidely

This is good news.

Is it? Or is it somewhat strange that Christian isn’t immediately panicking that Ana’s violated his precious non-disclosure agreement by talking to her own Mother about him. It’s almost like it doesn’t matter at all and he just made it up to hold over her head when convenient and isolate her from her friends.

Ana’s mother then invites Christian to dinner that night and excuses herself to the bathroom.

Hasn’t she just been to the restroom?

Yes, you idiot. She’s giving you alone time with your girlfriend. He cannot be this dense.

Christian powers through his hazy social confusion to seize the opportunity to shame Ana for daring to be upset that he had dinner with his former lover/rapist/business partner while she was out of town — this from the guy who physically shoved her long-time friend for trying to kiss her even though Ana and Christian were not yet in a relationship at the time:

“So, you’re mad at me for having dinner with an old friend.” I kiss each knuckle.

“Yes.” She’s curt.

Is she jealous?

I mean, yes. And that’s fine. But obviously she’s also hurt, confused, upset, betrayed, and worried. How would he not know and respect that? You — the most jealous and controlling guy on the planet?

He patronizingly explains to her that his sexual relationship with “Mrs. Robinson” is in the past, but Ana hits him with this reply:

“I think of her as a child molester, Christian.”

…Because she is one.

My scalp tingles in shock. “That’s very judgmental. It wasn’t like that.”

It literally was, I don’t want to be flippant towards Christian here — for once — because even though this book is awful trash, there are plenty of abuse victims who wind up blaming themselves or believing that they have some shared responsibility for what happened. And if this book was genuinely interested in exploring those themes with the kind of subtlety or generosity — or even self-awareness — that’s required, this might be an interesting dynamic. But instead both series — even though the first is ostensibly from Ana’s perspective — try to convince Ana and the reader that molestation “healed” a broken boy and that consent laws are just hazy guidelines anyway, right?

It’s hard to pin down the most disgusting thing about this series, but Christian’s unresolved and unexplored abuse ranks pretty high.

“Oh, how was it, then?” she snaps, sticking out her stubborn little chin.

Is this the drink talking?

I’m so torn — I mean, fuck Christian Grey for writing off Ana as a tipsy child because she has an opinion about something, but fuck Ana for treating his abuse so flippantly. If she really honestly believes that he was raped, she needs to pump the brakes a bit here and be more sympathetic than she is accusatory.

Verdict? They’re both awful. EL James is awful. This book is awful. Everything is awful.

She continues, “She took advantage of a vulnerable fifteen-year-old boy. If you had been a fifteen-year-old girl and Mrs. Robinson was a Mr. Robinson, tempting you into a BDSM lifestyle, that would have been okay? If it was Mia, say?”

Oh, now she’s being ridiculous. “Ana, it wasn’t like that.”

You know, this isn’t worth picking apart any further and it’s certainly not going to be ridiculed by me. He’s a victim of abuse, he’s failed to process that — which is unfortunately very normal — and Ana’s being a complete asshole in her approach to talking about it with him. She sucks, he sucks, and the rapist who’s being treated like some kind of vivacious cougar sucks the hardest.

So let’s sum up by saying that Christian believes Elena ultimately helped him and that he doesn’t want to discuss this any further. Which is fine. He threatens to leave, she — for God knows what reason — insists that she’s thrilled to see him and wants him to stay. Then, and this really is awful, Ana decides instead to say that her problem with Elena just boils down to jealousy (no it doesn’t! Please take your rape themes seriously, EL James!):

“I’m just trying to make you understand,” she says. “I’m angry that as soon as I left, you had dinner with her. Think about how you are when I get anywhere near Jose. Jose is a good friend. I have never had a sexual relationship with him. Whereas you and her–”

“You’re jealous?”

GOD DAMNIT.

Again, there’s just nobody worth defending here. But why on Earth do so many people want to read about these two self-absorbed and nasty characters who never fucking DO anything other than fuck each other?

How can I make her realize that Elena and I are friends? She has nothing to be jealous about.

ADDRESS HER VALID COMMENT ABOUT JOSE HOLY SHIT DUDE.

Clearly Miss Steele is possessive.

And it takes me a moment to realize that I like that.

Great. You love being awful together. At least you’ve avoided making two other people miserable.

“Yes, and angry about what she did to you,” she continues.

Conversations can definitely be repetitive, but EL James needs to use dialog to move a storyline forward. They’ve now had this same exchange like 5 times. But here’s Christian’s final word on the subject:

“Anastasia, she helped me. That’s all I’ll say about that. And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven’t had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years.

His company isn’t publicly traded? He doesn’t have any business partners? He never does business with other companies?

Ever?

Not one person.

EVER?

I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy. I didn’t go and see Mrs. Robinson to upset you. I went because every now and then we have dinner. She’s a friend and business partner.”

Her eyes widen.

Oh. Didn’t I mention that?

oops

Anyway, Christian tells Ana it’s none of her business because he’ll never respect her as a human being and he’s terrible.

He also lets Ana know that their relationship ended because her husband found out about them — another detail he “forgot” to mention earlier.

Ana finally asks him if he loved Elena, which throws him for a loop because he’s a sad Robot man who’s just now understanding feelings because a magic virgin vagina woke him from his cold business slumber only recently and he still needs time to process his weird soul rumblings.

Did I love Elena?

I take a sip of my drink. I fucking worshipped her…but did I love her? What a ridiculous question. I know nothing about romantic love. That’s the hearts-and-flowers shit she wants. The nineteenth-century novels she’s read have filled her head with nonsense.

omg

The idea that reading “the classics” means that you’re obsessed with noble, good-hearted men sweeping gentle virgin ladies off of their feet officially proves that EL James has never cracked a Regency/Victorian-era book in her life.

They’re filled with rape, betrayal, broken engagements, dead or dying children, secret crazy spouses, and — above all — really shitty dudes. Like Christian. If anything, you’d be in a better position to argue that Ana is obsessed with Christian because her silly lady head was filled with ideas from these silly lady books which convince the reader that she should definitely settle down with that guy who was rude to her for the last 15 chapters because of his secret man pain.

Oh, Darcy’s really nice to his sister? Fine. Everything’s forgiven.

Christian decides he’s had enough, offers to pay the tab, and goes to leave. On his way back to his room, he thinks:

That girl provokes me like no one has before.

And she’s pissed at me; maybe she has PMS. She said her period was due this week.

Did he add that to his Google Calendar as soon as she said it? I bet he did.

That said, she’s pissed at you for the reasons that she literally just stated — not because she’s “on her period,” you cartoon douchebag.

He STORMS into his hotel room and heads straight for the balcony to film another Scotch ad:

It’s warm outside, and I take a deep breath, inhaling the pungent salty scent of the river.

The… salty river?

Night has fallen, and the river is inky black, like the sky…like my mood.

depress

I didn’t even get to discuss gliding tomorrow. I rest my hands on the balcony rail. The lights on the shore and the bridge improve the view…but not my temperament.

I mean, Jesus.

But also is it possible that Christian Grey literally thinks he controls the skies? Pathetic fallacy is one thing, but I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s an actual wizard at this point.

Why am I defending a relationship that began when Ana was in fourth grade? It’s none of her business. Yes, it was unconventional. But that’s all.

Again, let’s just agree to skate over further details/discussion of his attack unless EL James confronts the fact that she wrote the rape of a minor into her story and then played it off as a “kink”. Which she won’t. Because she’s disgusting.

At some point, Ana knocks on the door to apologize/get the D. He’s busy businessing on his phone, so he carries on a conversation about business things while gesturing to her to have some alcohol — even though he literally just chastised her for drinking too much. She has orange juice, though, in case you were worried.

He continues businessing on the phone, but goes to draw a sex bath and light a bunch of candles:

Lit candles count as “more,” don’t they?

I don’t know, buddy. I just don’t know.

Ana and Christian talk — AGAIN — about Elena and nothing is resolved, except that Christian admits that he didn’t love Elena which is a relief to Ana because she’s terrible and they’re both terrible and everything’s terrible.

Then, happy that all of this bothersome talk of statutory rape is over, Ana decides to do her best sex move:

She smirks and sinks her perfect teeth into her lip.

She’s doing that on purpose.

“Please stop biting your lip. You’re in my room, I haven’t set eyes on you for nearly three days, and I’ve flown a long way to see you.” I need to know that we’re okay, the only way I know how.

By asking her and having a serious, sober conversation with you about the state of your relationship, your boundaries, and your expectations?

I want to fuck her, hard.

Oh, right.

My mistake.

“You were so mad at me,” I whisper.

It’s still novel, dealing with her anger, taking her feelings into account.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I mean, first I love that EL James actually types out that her sad Robot protagonist is baffled at the idea of having to think about someone else’s feelings, but also that Christian actually thinks he IS taking her feelings into account. At any point. Ever.

“Yes.”

“I don’t remember anyone but my family ever being mad at me. I like it.”

Gross.

“Are you bleeding?” I ask between kisses.

Okay. So I know I did lead with the big “tampon scene,” but let me stop for just a second to say that the ONLY problem I actually have with this scene is the fact that — once again — he’s acting like Master and Commander of her vagina. First, that he’s clearly penciled her menstruation schedule into his calendar, and second that he feels totally comfortable asking the next question:

“Do you have cramps?”

On the one hand, making sure she’s comfortable is good. But that’s… horrible invasive, no?

“No.” Her voice is quiet yet vehement with embarrassment.

I stop kissing her and look down into her eyes. Why is she embarrassed? It’s her body.

OH IS IT. I’ll remember that statement in like three pages when he declares she belongs to him — or when he reminds her to take the pill that his in-house gyno prescribed.

Either way, I hope we can all agree that the amount of scorn and ridicule that a bit of period sex inspired in people is pathetic — and I won’t be party to it. And while this entire series is a travesty that ought to be thrown into a volcano, the ONLY leg that EL James defenders have to stand on is the argument that portraying a bit of period sex is sadly progressive. Which it is. I just wish Christian wasn’t such a gross asshole about it.

Anyway, Christian makes Ana touch herself all sexy for his viewing pleasure. Then they’re ready for sex. But Master&Commander has more invasive questions:

“When did you start your period, Anastasia?”

I want to fuck you without a condom.

Like.

Did EL James get literally zero sex education? If so, this book makes a lot more sense.

Anyway, they have sex:

“That’s right, baby,” I murmur, my voice hoarse as I pound into her with a punishing I-own-you rhythm.

Is that like a 6/8 meter?

What do I set my metronome to?

Don’t argue with me. Don’t fight with me.

Fuuuuck you. Also, remember when he lied and said it was her body? That only counts if he’s using her own body to shame her, apparently.

She shifts. “I’m bleeding,” she says.

“Doesn’t bother me.” I don’t want to let her go.

“I noticed.” Her tone is dry.

“Does it bother you?” It shouldn’t. It’s natural.

Uggghhhh. IT’S HER BODY THOUGH REMEMBER.

I’ve only known one woman who was squeamish about period sex, but I wouldn’t take any of that crap from her.

How is he so relentlessly awful all the time about everything?

They get in the sex bath and Ana points out the circular scars on Christian’s chest — scars that hilariously weren’t explained in the movie version, which means that poor Jamie Dornan had to wander around looking like he had cat nipples for no reason:

cat

Anyway, as we eventually learn, the scars are from where the “Crack Whore’s” boyfriend (and pimp, presumably) would stub out cigarettes because Detroit. The poor are a sub-class, etc.

He’s worried she’ll pity him which… fine. I mean, again, Christian is allowed to have boundaries, and he’s allowed to ask for them to be respected, but it would be nice if he ever returned the favor.

Ana takes this prime moment to bring up Elena — AGAIN — and the text still doesn’t properly address this — AGAIN — so I’m skipping over it.

The tl;dr is that Christian voices aloud what he’s already said in italic inner monologs — namely that Elena’s rapey magic healed him, he was a bad kid, etc.

The one “Fuck you, Christian” moment, though, is when Christian admits that he does talk to Elena about Ana, and yeah — fuck you, Christian. Because your non-disclosure agreement is obviously just an isolation tactic, but it’s doubly fucked-up to chat casually with your ex/rapist about your current girlfriend when you KNEW it would make her uncomfortable.

Because you take her feelings into account, remember?

They talk more about how much they can’t trust each other to communicate openly, but then they just go back to having sex without actually resolving anything:

Up. Down. Up. Down. Over and over.

Hot stuff.

Christian and Ana retire to bed, having not resolved any of their issues, but Christian thinks the night has been a major success because they had a bunch of sex:

Well, talking isn’t so bad.

Today worked out after all.

Thank you, Elena…

And with that sated smile, I close my eyes.

This book can’t possibly get worse, right?

Wrong.

Join me next time and thanks for reading (and waiting).

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6 thoughts on “Yes, It’s the Tampon Scene: Chapter 17.2 of EL James’s “Grey”

  1. Pingback: Flying is a Sex Metaphor, and Other Lazy Cliches: Chapter 18 of EL James’s Grey | Tea Leaves and Dog Ears

  2. Hi I’ve been reading your recaps for a long time and I just want to tell you that I enjoy them a lot. I also read Jen trout’s . I like both of your styles!
    This book is so awful on so many levels . I can’t take anyone who enjoys this crap seriously . Ever. Can’t wait for the next one !

  3. Remind me, ‘cos I’m genuinely interested (and have zero interest in actually reading the books again): What did the the non-disclosure part of the agreement actually involve? Was the intent that it encompass both signatories or just the submissive?

    BDSM relationships (not that Ana and Christian actually have one) are asymmetrical – they typically do include expectations of the sub that do not apply to the Dom (and vice versa).

    P.S. Good work as always putting yourself through this pain to save us the horror. Thank you.

      • Yup.

        But I was asking if the NDA applied to Christian as well as Anna. Otherwise he’s not unreasonable in expecting her to follow it whilst ignoring it himself. That’s roughly as hypocritical as an employer holding their employee to an NDA but not having one themselves.

        A BDSM relationship (which this isnt) is meant to be mutually agreeable, not symmetrical. Each party has different rights and obligations.

        Christian isn’t a bad Dom because he doesn’t hold himself to the same things the sub agreed to do. He’s a bad Dom (or more accurately, an abusive dick pretending to be a Dom) because he doesn’t do the things a *Dom* should do. A key role of a Dom is to *understand what the sub wants and give them a safe framework that meets those needs*. Good BDSM relationships may appear uneven but they’re uneven in a mutually agreeable way.

        Being a Dom is a role that requires self-control. A Dom’s #1 duty is making sure that their sub is okay. If a sub is going to give a Dom power over them, even temporarily, the Dom needs to be (a) someone who can be trusted not to abuse that power, and (b) someone who understands the responsibilities that come with that power and takes them seriously. Christian Gray is none of those things.

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